G3 (Bethesda, Md.)

Genomic Instability of the Sex-Determining Locus in Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar).

PMID 26401030


Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout, like other members of the subfamily Salmoninae, are gonochoristic with male heterogamety. The finding that sex-linked genetic markers varied between species suggested that the sex-determining gene differs among salmonid species, or that there is one sex-determining gene that has the capacity to move around the genome. The discovery of sdY, the sex-determining gene in rainbow trout, and its presence in many male salmonids gave support to the latter. Additional evidence for a salmonid-specific, sex-determining jumping gene came from the mapping of the sex-determining locus to three different chromosomes in Tasmanian male Atlantic salmon lineages. To characterize the sex-determining region, we isolated three sdY containing BACs from an Atlantic salmon male library. Sequencing of these BACs yielded two contigs, one of which contained the sdY gene. Sequence analysis of the borders of male-specific and female/male common regions revealed highly repetitive sequences associated with mobile elements, which may allow an sdY cassette to jump around the genome. FISH analysis using a BAC or a plasmid containing the sdY gene showed that the sdY gene did indeed localize to the chromosomes where SEX had been mapped in different Tasmanian Atlantic salmon families. Moreover, the plasmid sdY gene probe hybridized primarily to one of the sex chromosomes as would be expected of a male-specific gene. Our results suggest that a common salmonid sex-determining gene (sdY) can move between three specific loci on chromosomes 2, 3, and 6, giving the impression that there are multiple SEX loci both within and between salmonid species.